“Dollhouse” 1×01 – Ghost

This is my second time trying to watch Dollhouse. A little over two years ago, I watched the first three or four episodes before I lost interest, but after recently watching Eliza Dushku kick ass on Buffy and Angel, I thought I’d give this show another shot.

As far as pilots go, Ghost isn’t quite memorable. There’s an off-putting standalone case, less-than-stellar performances and quite a creepy vibe that, ahem, echoes throughout the first hour. I thought I was going to be immersed by Dushku’s performance at least, but even that I found to be underwhelming. I do think she’s a great actress, and she’s got two seasons of the short-lived yet underrated Tru Calling to prove that, but perhaps she’s better off in a more badass role.

The good thing about Ghost is that it introduces a couple of intriguing ideas. The notion that there’s a secret facility that erases people’s personalities is very thought-provoking (currently watching Westworld is another reason I decided to check this out), and I can already tell I’m going to love Sierra. Dichen Lachman is perfectly cast in this role, revealing a truly badass Active who barely speaks in this episode but still manages to take down the kidnappers by hour’s end (something Echo, our supposedly badass lead, failed to do). Even Olivia Williams is stunning and quite devilish in her role, and I can’t wait to see how she unleashes trouble in the future.

What I do find missing from this Joss Whedon production is the witty dialogue I’d gotten used to. Whereas Buffy also had a somewhat weak opening, its script was nothing short of entertaining, and its characters were immediately fully realized. In Dollhouse, I feel like even the show doesn’t know much about its characters. Let’s hope that changes soon.


Bits

– Of course, Eliza Dushku’s first scene is a motorcycle chase sequence where she ends up dancing in a very, very short dress. But I’m more annoyed with why she took off her helmet during the chase.

– The little girl getting knocked unconscious and zipped into a bag was a very well-made sequence. I should have seen it coming, but I was still shocked by the horrific sight.

– How cool are those opening credits? The music with the bells at the end are particularly unsettling.

– Look, it’s Amy Acker! And she’s got mysterious scars all over her face. Hmmm.

– I wish we could’ve seen more of The Dollhouse because it is visually breathtaking with its zen-like space and vivid colors. Also loved seeing the Actives all showering together then proceeding to their haunting underground beds.

– I already hate Topher. Of course all shows need a tech-savy character to easily and convolutedly do things to move the plot forward, but this guy is very annoying. And he doesn’t even see anything wrong with where he works – unlike Boyd, who is infinitely more likable.

– Agent Ballard is also an interesting character, someone who is going to investigate Dollhouse. Tahmoh Penikett is quite good in the few scenes he has, especially as we cut from his interrogation to him fighting in the ringer. Very effective.

– Ah, look at those flip-phone cameras. I do not miss those.

– Very ominous ending with some naked guy watching videotapes of Echo and killing a random couple (Echo’s real parents maybe?).

– Despite that weird and mysterious cliffhanger, I couldn’t have asked for a better and more chilling final line: Echo saying in her videos that she wants to do everything, and it’s intercut with our heroine going to her Dollhouse bed. Damn.

Quotes

Chief: I can hire anybody for anything. And I’m gonna go to an illegal organization and have them build me, program me, what, the perfect date? Confessor, assassin, dominatrix, omelet chef?

Topher: That’s the person they needed, so that’s who Echo is. The expert.
Boyd: Who’s nearsighted.
Topher: She also has asthma.

Rating
C+

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